Extended Producer Responsibility
At a glance
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a policy tool that extends the producer’s financial and/or operational responsibility for a product to include the management of the post-consumer stage, in order to help meet national or EU recycling and recovery targets. EPR policies thus generally shift the waste management cost or physical collection partially or fully from local governments to producers.
Packaging and extended producer responsibility
The Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive requires Member States to set up systems for the return and/or collection and reuse or recovery (including recycling) of used packaging from the consumer in order to meet the EU recycling targets. Thus, the EU imposes the legal obligation of meeting the recovery and recycling targets on Member States. However, national governments may, and often do, delegate this legal obligation to producers/importers through the setting of EPR schemes.
EUROPEN has long been a strong advocate of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes as an essential component of waste management in Europe.
Recent legislative developments have introduced important requirements to ensure greater harmonisation and better enforcement of EPR schemes across the EU. While today most but not all Member States have EPR systems in place, the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive obliges all Member States to set EPR schemes for packaging by 2024. The Waste Framework Directive has introduced general minimum requirements to improve harmonisation, increase transparency, cost-efficiency, accountability and better enforcement of EPR obligations at national level. Under the new rules, eco-modulation of EPR fees has become mandatory with a view to boost recyclability.
The adoption of EU-wide mandatory minimum requirements in the revised Waste Framework Directive is an important step to ensure greater harmonisation across EPR schemes, strengthen transparency and enforcement and drive investments into collection and recycling.
Eco-modulation of EPR fees should rest on EU harmonised principles to avoid internal market distortions, help scaling up high-quality recycling and support the development of well-functioning markets for secondary raw materials in Europe.